From snails to mandolins: something for everyone during UCSC summer conferences

summer conferences 200.jpg

The Western Society of Malacologists will be one of the many conference groups on campus this summer.

Imagine a summer conference series that caters to Dickens fans and admirers of snails.

That’s what you will find up at UC Santa Cruz, where the 2012 schedule of conferences includes both the Charles Dickens Universe to the Western Society of Malacologists International Workshop on Opistobranchs., which devotes itself to mollusk matters.

These conferences – along with a list of other summery activities – keep this heavily wooded campus vibrant and busy long after students have returned home.

UCSC summer conferences have a longstanding reputation for eclecticism and professionalism. Now a campus institution, the conferences bring an average of 10,000 people to campus each summer, serving 65 different conference clients.

The average gross revenue of $4 million, generated within a 10-week period, goes to UCSC’s housing system and helps offset what students pay during the academic year for housing and dining. Visiting students have the full range of campus living. They stay in campus housing and eat in school dining halls.

The conferences are always a time to see new groups on campus, and welcome back groups that have a longstanding history at UCSC. For instance, the oldest conference group, USA Cheerleaders, has been coming back for more than 40 years.

“They learn their craft up here,” said Martha Keeler, UCSC’s assistant director of conference services.

Keeler attributed the conference program’s success to the setting as well as the programs’ quality. “We are so lucky to have this beautiful environment,” she said. “The reputation of UCSC, and the natural setting, keep our programs very strong. We draw a national and international student base.” Among the summer offerings is a language school that draws a contingent of students from Japan.

This is a chance for visitors to immerse themselves in such fields of interest as mathematics, lacrosse, mandolin playing, ocean studies, cross country,  and food science.

Faculty, academic departments, and professional associations will sponsor the academic programs, youth sports camps, and adult conferences. Here is a small smattering of options: (Click here if you would like to see the full index of offerings.)

School of rock

Soundwall Music, established in 1993 – whose website loudly plays a short sample of Van Halen’s “Panama” as soon as you click on it --  is among the many returning attractions. This summer music camp is a real-life School of Rock that shows budding guitarists, bassists, vocalists, and drummers from age 12 to 17 how to play in a band, learn rock music stylings, and jam together. According to the promotional materials, “students play all styles … from Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Tool.”

Sweet harmony

Crystal Children's Choir was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994. Since then, it has grown into a 1,000-member organization. The choir's mission is to strive for choral music excellence by providing choral music education to children and blending the best of Eastern and Western musical traditions.

Picking on Santa Cruz

Held from June 24-29, the Mandolin Symposium brings an all-star group of instructors and musicians to campus including David Grisman & Mike Marshall. This international gathering of mandolin enthusiasts will celebrate the diversity of this diminutive but versatile instrument as part of a week-long music camp experience.

Exploring the ocean’s riches.

Camp SEA Lab fosters lifelong excitement, scientific understanding, and stewardship of the California coastline and ocean by providing quality marine oriented programs that promote Science, Education and Adventure for youth, families and teachers. Camp SEA Lab is dedicated to helping children explore the wonders of the marine environment from the top of the watershed to the bottom of the deep sea as they gain a greater appreciation for what science can teach them about our world and the importance of being good stewards for the ocean.